Internet Geographer

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Cloud Collaboration

I have finished writing a book chapter titled “Cloud Collaboration: Peer-Production and the Engineering of Cyberspace.” The chapter will appear in an edited volume being put together by Stan Brunn. A pre-publication version can be downloaded here.

The abstract is as follows:

The internet has made possible a pooling of labor from around the world on a scale never before possible in human history. Millions of people now contribute work to cyber-projects like Facebook, Wikipedia, and Google Earth. Unfortunately, distinct demographic biases characterize both the creators and the content of these new projects. Rather than bringing everyone into a global village, the internet instead enables hybrid physical/virtual spaces to be created that can never eliminate the global economic inequalities that characterize the physical world. Many of the free contributions of labor on the internet are based on a hope that a shared, open, transparent, and democratic digital commons is being created. However, new cyberspaces are frequently subject to many of the same power relations that characterize the offline-world, with large profits being made by private companies from freely contributed labor. Hopes for a digital commons built by global workforce of volunteers should not be lightly discarded, but as this chapter demonstrates, there remain myriad forms of bias, control and exploitation that characterize many of the projects being constructed in cyberspace.